A stream of female lawmakers were booted out of New Zealand's parliament on Wednesday after the speaker deemed their disclosures about surviving sexual abuse out of order.
Several other lawmakers walked out in protest and solidarity amid calls for Prime Minister John Key to withdraw remarks made a day earlier in which he appeared to accuse the opposition of backing "rapists."
Speaker David Carter started off Wednesday's session by saying he initially hadn't heard Key's remark but had reviewed the comment and found it to be unparliamentary. However, he said he would not order the prime minister to apologize because the time to do so — at the time of the offense — had passed and objections had not been raised quickly enough.
"As the victim of a sexual assault, I take personal offense at the prime minister’s comments"
"I do ask that members raise unparliamentary comments or remarks at the time they are made," he said. "It is difficult to deal with them when they are raised much later."
A stream of opposition parliamentarians then stood up making points of order and urging the speaker to force an apology from Key.
James Shaw, co-leader of the Green Party, kicked off a series of opposition lawmakers raising points of order to urge Carter ask Key to withdraw and apologize for the comment.
Metirir Turei, also of the Green Party, then went several rounds.
"As the victim of a sexual assault, I take personal offense at the prime minister’s comments, and ask that you require him to withdraw and apologize," Turei said in one of several points of order. She was shut down at each turn.
Then, lawmaker Jan Logie got involved.
"As a victim of sexual assault and an advocate for survivors, I would ask that the record expunge the comment from the prime minister," she told the chamber. The speaker replied "that cannot be done."
Carter then agreed to hear a point of order from the Green Party's Catherine Delahunty as long as it was "fresh."
"It is a fresh point of order; it is not a campaign, Mr Speaker. As a victim of sexual—," she said as Carter called "Order!" and told her to take her seat.
"I was assured that it was a fresh point of order; I have just been let down by Catherine Delahunty," he said, adding that he hoped the next lawmaker would not be "flouting the rules."
Once that next lawmaker — Nanaia Mahuta — started off by saying, "As a trustee of the Waikato Women’s Refuge, Te Whakaruruhau, I take personal offense" — Carter ordered her to take her seat. He then warned that anyone making a point of order "along the same lines" would be told to leave the chamber.
Marama Davidson was kicked out when she raised a point of order and said, "As a victim of..."
Then Clare Curran got the boot.
"I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As somebody who has experienced an attempted," she said — before Carter cut her off and ordered her to leave the chamber.
Dr. Megan Woods was ordered out "for consistency" after she said she took offense to Key's remark and wanted to "require he apologize."
Several other female and male lawmakers walked out in solidarity and in protest.
“We walked out because every young woman in this country — every woman needs to know — that the women parliamentarians will not put up with this,” Delahunty told reporters. Logie said it was the first time she had spoken publicly about her own abuse.
"It's deeply disappointing that the speaker and the Prime Minister do not take the concerns of sexual survivors seriously," she told the New Zealand Herald. "It's completely unacceptable to trivialize the concern and experiences of so many New Zealanders in the way that has happened today."
Key had earlier triggered controversy when talking about immigration centers and appeared to accuse opposition politicians of backing "rapists" during a heated parliamentary exchange.